Project Title: Why Citizens Support Elected Leaders that Erode Democracy

Project Overview: Why do many voters in contemporary democracies support what seem to be openly anti-democratic actions by elected incumbents? Why do some voters choose to simply ignore these actions? And why does public opposition coalesce into protests and social movements in some democracies that are eroding and not in others? This project will address these questions by using a series of survey experiments to examine the behavioral underpinnings of citizen support for democracy as well as support for anti-democratic actions that can be taken by democratically elected political incumbents. This project examines heterogeneity and malleability in citizen views regarding what constitute the core principles of democracy, as well as coordination problems around opposing sequential but small-scale anti-democratic activities. It envisions fielding a series of survey experiments in six countries from around the globe that suffer differing degrees of democratic erosion but that can be paired in three groups along core factors that are hypothesized to impact citizen norms and beliefs about democracy such as democratic age and the nature of the former authoritarian regime. This novel research design holds promise to speak to how scholars and practitioners should understand the snowballing trend in democratic erosion around the world.

Bio: Michael Albertus is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. His research interests include political regimes, inequality and redistribution, clientelism, and civil conflict. He has published two books, Autocracy and Redistribution: The Politics of Land Reform (2015, Cambridge University Press) and Authoritarianism and the Elite Origins of Democracy (2018, Cambridge University Press), and a host of articles in outlets such as the American Journal of Political Science, World Politics, Journal of Conflict Resolution, and Comparative Political Studies. He also writes regularly for public audiences in outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Policy, and Foreign Affairs.